COVID-19 Vaccination Statistics
With a mass vaccination programme underway, public health agencies publish key statistics.
This article looks at the available statistics and a furore over definitions.
Vaccines and daily figures
In the United Kingdom, there are three approved COVID-19 vaccines.
The UK vaccination programme began on 8th December. On that date, people started getting the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. After 4th January, healthcare workers delivered the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in the UK. Both vaccines have a two-dose schedule, at least 21 days apart.
The Medicine & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has also approved the Moderna vaccine.
The Public Health England COVID-19 dashboard publishes:
- Daily counts of first and second doses, by report date.
- Cumulative total of first and second doses.
The daily statistics are available since 11th January, for the UK and by nation. For Scotland and Wales, there were no reported figures for 15th and 16th January. The reported total for 17th January included vaccinations on these dates.
The dashboard also includes weekly vaccination figures, by the week of vaccination.
NHS England produces weekly COVID-19 vaccination reports. The published statistics are from the National Immunisation Management Service. The publication shows:
- Total NHS COVID-19 vaccinations given in England.
- Counts by age band (80 or over, under 80), NHS region, and dose.
- Figures by Integrated Care System or Sustainability Transformation Partnership (sub-regions).
- First and second doses by ethnicity.
Public Health Scotland produces a weekly COVID-19 report, which includes:
- Counts of vaccinations by the first and second dose.
- Vaccinations with the first dose by category (e.g. healthcare worker).
- First dose vaccinations by age group, gender, and estimated coverage.
- Vaccinations with the first dose by NHS Board, with estimated coverage.
All PHS figures come from their Vaccination Management Tool.
Public Health Wales publishes vaccination statistics on their COVID-19 dashboard. The dashboard shows:
- The latest cumulative total for people with first and second doses.
- The latest first dose coverage, by the priority groups.
- Weekly summaries by health boards in Wales.
Northern Ireland’s Department of Health provides vaccination statistics to Public Heath England. It does not give these figures on its COVID-19 daily dashboard.
How could we make these statistics better?
Ed Humpherson (OSR) wrote to the producers of these vaccination statistics.
The letter highlighted three areas of potential improvement.
- More detail: There are inconsistent breakdowns across the nation. Greater detail could include age group, sex, ethnicity. There is also a need to track the number of offered vaccinations and declines. We should be able to see progress on vaccination in certain groups, such as the JCVI priority groups. The numbers of vaccines by manufacturer is also important.
- Methods: Information about the data itself is quite sparse.
- Comparable statistics: We need to highlight key differences in statistics across the nations. Which figures should readers avoid comparing?
The Royal Statistical Society has also made recommendations, highlighting the need for preparation:
Data collection and reporting should have been central to the plan for rolling out a vaccine from the very start. This is essential to maintain trustworthiness, quality and value.
What is a “vaccinated person”?
There was some furore on social media about the definition of a “vaccinated person”. Dr Clarke, a palliative care doctor and author, claimed on Twitter:
Here is an example of how the govt are redefining “been vaccinated” as only the first of a two dose vaccination: [quoting a post by the Health Secretary.]
Claudia Webbe MP (Leicester East, Independent) asserted:
A single dose is not ‘vaccinated’[.]
A vaccinated person means someone who has had a vaccine. This is not a redefinition.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines “vaccination” as:
The act of introducing a vaccine into the body to produce immunity to a specific disease.
The NHS England reports refer to “the number of people who have been vaccinated for COVID-19”. That includes people who had the first dose of the vaccine.
We have to consider the development of single-dose COVID-19 vaccines. The Janssen vaccine, from Johnson & Johnson, has a version with a single dose.
There are other vaccines which have a full course of two or more doses. Public Health England and NHS England measure coverage of the MMR vaccine at five years of age. The statistics are for the first and second doses.
Saying a person with one vaccine dose is not ‘vaccinated’ implies there is no immune response. This is untrue.
Healthcare services administer secondary doses to induce a longer and fuller immune response. The Australian Academy of Science illustrates why healthcare services use ‘booster’ shots:
It is key to continue measuring the second doses of each COVID-19 vaccine. These figures are available in the current reporting.